PORT ST. LUCIE, Fla. - An assistant city attorney was given a ride home early Saturday morning after police thought she was driving while "borderline" intoxicated, and no citations were issued or arrests made, police officials said Thursday.
Police Chief Brian Reuther on Thursday said that about 2:27 a.m. Saturday, an officer stopped Assistant City Attorney Gabrielle Taylor near U.S. 1 and Tiffany Avenue because "she had difficulty driving."
"My understanding is she may have been drinking," Reuther said, saying she'd been at a bar at Southeast Port St. Lucie and Southeast Westmoreland boulevards.
Later, Reuther said he had heard Taylor was upset over a friend having a limb amputated and that also might have contributed to her having difficulty driving.
"I don't know if that factored into the way she was driving, but that's supposedly one of the things that was thrown out," Reuther said. "Not being there, I'm going on what I am hearing."
Reuther said the officer notified a supervisor, acting Lt. Paul Grohowski.
Officer Tom Nichols, police spokesman, said officers smelled alcohol.
Reuther said Grohowski, based on what he'd seen, thought Taylor was "borderline" intoxicated and made the judgment call to take her home. A field sobriety test — a standard set of exercises officers ask drivers to perform when suspected of driving while impaired — was not administered.
Reuther said there's no report about the incident and that he was informed of the situation about 9 a.m. the same day. Nichols said routine traffic stops that do not result in an arrest and/or citation generally are not documented in a report.
Reuther said he didn't direct Grohowski to not arrest Taylor. He said the matter was under Grohowski's discretion.
Nichols said there was "insufficient probable cause" to make an arrest. He also said it's not uncommon for officers to stop motorists and issue verbal warnings, as opposed to giving citations or making arrests.
Reuther said officers have a wide discretion. Occasionally, when pulling over drivers who may have been drinking, officers take drivers home rather than make an arrest.
"I don't keep stats, but we have taken people home in the past, even those who maybe have a faint odor of alcohol," Reuther said. "I've done it."
Asked whether it was routine to call a supervisor to a traffic stop, Reuther said, "I understand they conducted a traffic stop on her, and a supervisor was called over. That is not necessarily in and of itself unusual. Being that she is an assistant city attorney may have been some of the motivation to call a supervisor. Normally, on anything that's an investigation that may lead to something you call a supervisor."
Asked if Taylor was suspected of driving while under the influence why she wasn't given a Breathalyzer test or arrested, Reuther said, "This supervisor made this decision ... and he didn't feel it was warranted."
Asked what would rise to an arrest, Reuther said, "Being involved in a crash, the person staggering and you have to determine probable cause that the person behind the wheel was impaired and from my understanding, it doesn't rise to that level."
City Attorney Roger Orr said he'd been made aware of the incident. He declined to comment, saying he was still looking into the matter.
He said as of Thursday no disciplinary action has been taken.
Nichols said there is no dash cam video of the incident, and that not every patrol car is equipped with dash cam video.
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